Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dawkins vs. O'Reilly

   Richard Dawkins is out promoting his new book, "The Magic of Reality," and, for some reason, he was doing so on the O'Reilly Factor. (I'm not sure who he thinks, out of those viewers, is actually going to buy the book.) I have only seen the clips of the interview that are in the TYT video below, but what is there is pretty good. Cenk makes some great points, but there are things I want to add below the fold.

Clip 1: O'Reilly apparently accuses Dawkins of mocking God. O'Reilly's comments about "it says these things are myths, they're not really true" doesn't make a whole lot of sense here. As Dawkins points out, the book includes Aztec myths, Egyptian myths, etc. Is O'Reilly upset that Dawkins is calling those stories myths? Likely not. O'Reilly is really only upset about Dawkins including myths of Abrahamic religions like Christianity. This is known as special pleading. Additionally, O'Reilly's comment about getting the kids to think "you are an idiot to believe in God" falls in a similar category. Does he think the Aztec's were idiots for worshiping the sun? (Oh, wait, this is Bill "sun goes up, sun goes down" O'Reilly we're talking about, so maybe not.) It's always amusing watching theists be OK with criticisms of other religions, but then getting upset when theirs is criticized. (Anyone remember the Isaac Hayes incident with South Park? Perfect example.)
   Otherwise, Cenk has great comments on how atheists don't think theists are stupid. Uninformed? Probably, but that's unrelated to intelligence/stupidity. A little education can fix that.

Clip 2: Oh, Stalin, Mao, and Pot...didn't I discuss this in a recent post? Otherwise, I think Cenk said about everything else that needs to be said on this, except for what Dawkins adds in...

Clip 3: Religion is a "constraining influence"? I'm with Cenk. Religion isn't a restraining influence. While I have not yet released my long-time-since-it-has-been-sitting-in-draft post on morality, one thing I address in there is that the Bible has both positive and negative moral commandments. For a person to only follow the positive ones and ignore the negative ones means that the person's morality must come from outside the Bible. This "constraining influence" actually works by good people looking for Biblical scripture to justify their desire to be good. In short, people doing good is in spite of the religion, not because of it. However, the same is not always true for people doing bad things. Steven Weinberg has a fitting quote for this: "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Clip 4: O'Reilly just gets bizarre on this one. Dawkins own question of "What does that have to do with the origin of the moon?" should hopefully get you thinking about how absurd O'Reilly's comments are. Cenk's response with the Dave Silverman clip is classic! And appropriate!

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